Some courses will accept students on the strength of their UCAS application alone, but many require an interview. The Universities of Oxford and Cambridge are infamous for their intense interview process, and courses like medicine and dentistry interview applicants particularly thoroughly as well. Some interviews focus on personality type, some on critical thinking skills, and some on both. Although university interviews are nerve-wracking, they’re an important opportunity for applicants to show off their potential.
Here are some tips to help:
Read around your chosen subject
You need to demonstrate that you learn about this subject in your spare time, as well as in school. Have a look at newspaper websites and see if anything relevant to your course is being discussed. See if there are any magazines or websites that focus on your subject. For example, if you are interested in economics, you could subscribe to The Economist. Remember that your interviewer might ask questions about current events. You could also listen to documentaries or podcasts relating to your chosen subjects. It is also worth looking into free online courses. Yale has a series of online lectures, and the Open University has a series of free courses that you can look at.
Research the course and university
Why do you want to study this course at this particular university? Read up on the course syllabus on their website. If you can read a couple of things from their reading list, even better. Take note of any modules that you find particularly interesting.
Ask a teacher or careers adviser to give you a mock interview. You could also ask friends and parents. Lots of websites share questions people have been asked in interviews, and some universities (like the University of Oxford) give sample questions on their websites. Look at these questions and practice answering them; this should make you more comfortable on the day.
Don’t over prepare
Don’t prepare long statements to recite in an interview. It comes off as robotic, and it means that you might not answer the question you’re being asked, because you’re in a rush to say what you’ve memorised.
Find out what to expect
Ask if you need to bring anything with you, and find out what format the interview or interviews will follow. If you need any adjustments to be made, let the university know. For example, if you have a disability and need special access, email or call the university to let them know.
Review your application
If you mentioned a book or article in your personal statement, be prepared to talk about it. If you haven’t actually read it, now is the time! If you listed volunteering or other hobbies, remind yourself of what you wrote, and come up with some interesting things to say about them.
Plan how to get there
Check where and when your interview is, book transport and accommodation for yourself if needed, use the internet to find directions or maps to the location.
Make sure you give yourself time for sleep the night before your interview. Don’t spend it cramming!
Dress for the occasion
If you really wow the interviewer, they probably won’t remember what you wore, but dressing smartly and appropriately helps you make a good impression before you start to talk. It shows that you are taking the interview seriously.
Remember, it is important to prepare for your interview, but you also need to be yourself.
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